Plan Sends Bus a New Direction

Gregory Vellner

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A new bus system under review in Bucks County, Pa.Photo byUnsplash

BENSALEM, Pa. -- The wheels on SEPTA’s buses still will go round-and-round in Bucks County, Pa,, but under a new plan they’ll head in an innovative new direction.

Several SEPTA bus routes in Bucks would be replaced by microtransit, on-demand pickups, under an agency plan that aims to improve transportation logistics, remove redundancy and trim costs.

Major route changes and the elimination of at least one Bucks County route would take place under the plan recently unveiled that would, if approved by the SEPTA board, take effect in the fall of 2023. In addition, SEPTA is proposing to disconnect the No. 1 bus which services Parx Casino in Bensalem.

“We had to do something to get ridership back up,” said Dan Neminoff, moderator at a recent SEPTA forum discussing the plan. “This project has three goals: to put the rider first, increase access to opportunity and build trust with reliable service.”

Ridership fell 30 percent to 40percetnt post-pandemic, he said.

A number of changes to bus routes are planned, such as bus Route 127, which connects the Trenton Transit Center to Oxford Valley Mall in Middletown. It will be extended to reach Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem under the plan. Another change is Route 130’s split to create Route 601 connecting Bucks County Community College in Newtown to Neshaminy Mall.

Lower and Central Bucks will be split into two microtransit zones numbered 681 and 682, replacing traditional bus services to Bensalem, Croydon. Levittown, Telford and other county locations.

A flexible, on-demand service, the microtransit system allows riders to request a trip within a specified wait time, usually less than 30 minutes. It plans front-door pickup or at the closest, safest intersection, according to SEPTA. Riders will use a mobile app or call the agency to arrange their ride.

A passenger must live within a microtransit zone and request travel to another zone location – or use microtransit to connect to a bus stop or to a transportation center.

The fare will be identical to a standard fare, officials said, noting customers used to a set scheduled system now will have to embrace a new method.

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA
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